Many Roads and One Narrow One

This is a more personal posting and it's a long one. I've been praying about what to do next because I didn't get a molecular biology degree or a law degree to work at Upton Tire Pros. I have nothing against simple hard work, however, when the shop manager screams at me in front of all the technicians in the garage at the top of his voice, promising to get me fired, for a simple fixable mistake, the absurd context sinks in of being there verses a job I'm trained to do making more money. It's time to leave my stop gap job.

The shop manager has anger issues as everyone in the shop will attest to and he dislikes me, perhaps because I don't return his vitriol. I'm a Quaker at heart. That was the Friday before last. I wasn't feeling great that day and following that incident I came down with a cough and sore throat that kept me away from work the entire week. I hadn't been sick for about two years before that. On Wednesday, I saw the doctor and he prescribed antibiotics which I took and started feeling better.

I used the time away to think and pray. On Wednesday, just after seeing the doctor, I stopped by the shop and tendered my resignation. Upton is an 11 hour/day, 5 days/week job and it's hard to do anything else besides work. George, the store manager (not the angry shop manager), asked me to work next week since they were going to be short staffed. Not wanting to leave Gorge in a tight spot, and not having any malice toward anyone there, I agreed.

This Monday is my first day out of work. I've decided to study for the patent bar exam and take the exam within three weeks, then, look for a job in Intellectual Property (IP). I could end up drafting patents, working at the US Patent and Trademark Office, or negotiating and managing IP related contracts which is what I did for Pfizer before traveling to Mississippi.

As I'm looking ahead, I get the sense that the decisions I've made in my life have been one act of mischief after another. Some mischief I've initiated and some mischief was foisted on me; maybe by the divine comedian himself. Perhaps, the mischief foisted on me kept me from accomplishing altogether greater mischief of which I shall forever remain ignorant. I'm praying now that God will free me from this apparant mischief and author me into something more clearly his design. If God calls me one direction as I'm moving somewhere else, that's ok. I need to be moving in some direction. I hate feeling lazy. However, the wanderlust keeping me moving may have lead to all this mischief in the first place. I don't know.

Why did I go from bible school student to biological researcher to attorney to business owner to driver/salesman for an automotive service center? How did I end up going from West Virginia to Ohio to Oklahoma to California to Mississippi? Why did I go from Methodist to Charismatic to non-denominational to Presbyterian back to Methodist and finally end up Episcopalian? Why did I play #1 seed on my high school tennis team and win all those tournaments as a Sophomore only to move to a farm my Junior year to attend a high school with no tennis team where the nearest tennis court was almost an hour away? Why did my parents buy me a nice Fender Telecaster guitar and amplifier, then, move way out to the country where there was no guitar teacher? Why did I end up going to an unaccredited bible school in a denomination I would not end up staying with rather than going to the College of Wooster in Ohio when my parents were willing to pay? Why did I leave a good job and a condo I just purchased In San Diego, right after remodeling it; just when I was secure for the first time in my life since high school; to go to Mississippi to start a business with my brother? Why did I fall in love with a woman in Mississippi and ask her to marry me just before she dies? I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that's a lot of mischief. Where do all these roads lead? It all seems to go nowhere. However, I find comfort in the single unseen narrow road that is Jesus beneath all these seemingly random roads on the surface crisscrossing my life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

On that farm in Ohio, the time between tennis and bible school, I met Christ as my savior. I was working at a sports shop and a customer left a tract titled, Four Spiritual Laws. I brought it home and remember reading it in my bedroom. I knelt and finished praying the prayer just as my mother called me to dinner. I felt no different. However, a couple days later, a sense of God's love and presence seemed to plant itself in my life. Light and color seemed more vibrant. I remember driving with a big smile on my face and remember people I didn't know smiling back at me. The Bible started making sense and reading it satisfied a hunger within me.

I like Alston's blog entry, Magnificent Defeat. He speaks of buying into shiny Christianity, and instead, getting the real nitty gritty Christianity. I'm paraphrasing. Two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem after Christ's crucifixion. They were sad because things hadn't gone as expected. Christ might not have been who they thought he was. Maybe they had wasted years of their lives on an empty dream. They were expecting victory and all they saw was defeat. They were walking away from all that. However, just as, "All roads lead to Rome," these two disciples were on a road leading back to Christ rather than away from him.

I wrote a poem in college that I recently titled, Mobius Trip on this blog. There are a couple of versions. The title is based on something called a Mobius Strip. It's a shape that looks like a two dimensional surface except it only has one surface. A sheet of paper has two surfaces. One on each side. If you were traveling over a sheet of paper, you couldn't travel from one side to the other without crossing the edge. However, you can make a sheet of paper that has only one surface by cutting a rectangular strip, turn it 180 degrees, and taping one end to the other. This way, you can travel on both sides of the paper without lifting your finger. You can follow a single path and end up where you started even though it might feel like your moving further and further away. This reminds me of Emmaus road. Even while the disciples thought they were walking away, Jesus was bringing them back.

I'm thankful for the Christianity that cost Christ everything, even though I didn't appreciate it for what it was at the time I received Christ and was unable recognize what I needed. No matter where I go or what I do, my experience on the farm in Ohio is central to my life. It's a past event that continually unfolds as Christ the author of my salvation becomes my teacher, walking with me, explaining why he had to suffer and die, and what he imparted to me. I have traveled many roads from there. However, there is a single narrow road they all follow that leads to my destination. I pray he gives me strength and direction during this time and that he saves me from mischief and my own unbelief.

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